I am somewhat conflicted as to my opinion about this book. On one hand, I adore Anne Gracie. She publishes only once a year and I’m always biting my nails, waiting for more. Her Merridew series (with the exception of the final book) features some of my favorite romance novels of all time and I really liked her Chance series. I love her writing. But I’m not sure I loved this book.
Marry in Haste kicks off a new series and, to be honest, it spends a lot more time setting up the universe and the lead heroines of the rest of the books than it does with Emmaline and Cal. I guess that makes sense in some ways.
Cal is a soldier, fighting the loose ends of the Napoleonic Wars, and inherits the earldom unexpectedly. He’s tracking down an assassin who is responsible for the death of a close friend, and for most of the book, this occupies most of his attention. But now he has to take on his younger half-sisters and a secret niece his brother abandoned. He decides he needs someone to take care of those things so he can find his assassin and return to the Continent to continue in the army. That’s where Emmaline comes in. Emm is a teacher at the girls’ former school with her own tragic backstory and agrees to a marriage for Cal’s convenience.
Marriage of convenience stories are some of my favorite, so that plays into what I like about this book. Emm and Cal don’t have a traditional conflict, not one that drives the story. This is basically the story of a lonely soldier who didn’t grow up around family and has no idea what to do about all the women in his life. Emm helps him figure out how to be, well, human.
This does a good job of setting of the universe — I’m very interested in stories for Rose, Lily, and George, the younger sisters and niece. I really like Emm (we’ll talk about Cal in the spoilers) and I’m glad where the story ends up. The big problem I have is that the romance, such as it is, pretty much doesn’t start until they’re married and that’s about page 146 in my book. Halfway. The first half of the book spends more time with Cal more than Emm — she’s in the prologue, and then basically disappears for fifty pages.
It’s a sweet book that’s light on plot and romance, but does a really good job with character development. Most Anne Gracie fans won’t be disappointed.